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The Achilles tendon is a fibrous band of tissue that links the muscles in your calf to your heel. The strength and flexibility of this tendon are important for jumping, running, and walking. Your Achilles tendon withstands a lot of stress and pressure during everyday activities, as well as during athletic and recreational play. If it becomes inflamed, swollen, and irritated, it is called tendonitis.
Tendonitis might be due to overuse or damage to the area. It can cause pain down the back of your leg and around your heel. You might notice that parts of your tendon are getting thicker, and hardening, because of tendonitis. This will get worse if you don't treat it. There are 2 main types of tendonitis:
The tears in your tendon fibers can cause a complete or partial break (or tear) in your tendon. You might hear a “pop” that seems to come from the back of your heel or calf. This may be a tendon rupture, which needs immediate medical attention.
Anyone can develop an Achilles tendon injury. They’re often linked to repetitive stress. The most common risk factors are:
Common symptoms of tendon injuries include:
Injury to the Achilles tendon causes pain along the back of your leg near the heel. Sometimes healthcare providers misdiagnose Achilles tendon injuries as a sprained ankle. It’s important to get the right diagnosis so you can get the right treatment. Several common injuries can make your Achilles tendon painful or prevent it from working well.
To diagnose your condition, your doctor will consider:
Treatment depends on how badly injured your tendon is. It may include:
If these do not work, or if the injury is severe or complete, surgery may be considered. The type of surgery depends on the location and amount of damage to the tendon and other factors, such as the severity of the tendonitis. Some of the surgical procedures used include:
Complications of an Achilles tendon injury may include:
Other complications can be related to the treatments used for an Achilles tendon injury. For instance,
These steps can help prevent injury to your Achilles tendon:
Call your doctor immediately if you hear a “pop” sound and have sudden pain in the back of your leg or heel. Otherwise, schedule an appointment if pain or trouble moving affects your regular daily activities.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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